Tuesday, March 13, 2007

NZAID Opposes Fiji Human Rights Handbook

NZAID wants human rights handbook out
Monday March 12, 2007 -www.fijilive.com

New Zealand's International Aid and Development Agency (NZAID) has called on the Fiji Human Rights Commission to withdraw from circulation a revised handbook on human rights.

The handbook "National, Security and Human Rights: A Handbook for the Disciplined Services of Fiji" was given to soldiers and the police force recently.

A statement from NZAID said it noted the revised edition contained new elements and guidance that implied recognition of the December 5 coup and of the validity of the Interim Government.

According to NZAID, the changes appeared in the recently-released Fijian-language version.

"This is not an interpretation of recent events in Fiji that the New Zealand Government supports, accepts or endorses.

"The several references in the revised handbook to NZAID to support and assistance for its preparation and publication are therefore misleading. NZAID reserves judgement as to whether the inclusion of these references was deliberate or unintentional.

NZAID said the Human Rights Commission did not consult it about any aspect of the publication.

"The Grant Funding Arrangement between NZAID and the FHRC requires the Commission to seek NZAID's consent for the use of its name in new versions or editions of the Handbook.

"This consent was not sought, which constitutes a material breach of contract.

NZAID has also asked the Human Rights Commission to issue a public statement acknowledging the breach and confirming that the revised edition is being recalled.

In a statement late this afternoon, FHRC acting chairman Rodney Acraman said the Commission was dismayed that NZAID requested the recall.

He said regrettably NZAID did not give a right of hearing to the FHRC on its concerns before publicly condemning the revised version and demanding its withdrawal.

Acraman said the FHRC carefully kept to the terms of its original proposal and contract with NZAID for the project.

He said NZAID's interpretation of the contract is at odds with that of the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

He added the FHRC will seek clarification of these matters with NZAID and will, if necessary, seek mediation in good faith on the provisions of the Contract Agreement.

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